Home | News    Thursday 29 September 2005

Sudan appeals decision allowing suit over USS Cole bombing


By CATHERINE TOMASKO, ESQ., Andrews Publications Staff Writer

Sept 27, 2005 (WASHINGTON) — The Sudanese government is challenging a Virginia federal court’s refusal to dismiss a suit filed by families of the service members killed in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole who say the country provided material support to al-Qaida for the attack.

JPEG - 112.9 kb
USS Cole

Sudan was sued for millions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by the families of the 17 sailors who were killed Oct. 12, 2000, in al-Qaida’s bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. The suit, which was filed in July 2004, includes claims for wrongful death, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The plaintiffs contend that Sudanese government is liable as a result of its provision of material support to al-Qaida, a terrorist organization that sent its members to bomb the USS Cole. The suit says the country’s material support consisted of funding, directing, training and harboring the terrorists.

The government moved to dismiss the suit on the grounds that subject matter jurisdiction was lacking because it was immune from suit based on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The law provides that foreign states are immune from suit in the U.S. courts unless certain exceptions apply.

Sudan further asserted that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim because they were allowed to proceed only under the Death on the High Seas Act. The statute allows the personal representative of a decedent to claim damages for wrongful death occurring on the high seas in the district courts in admiralty.

The plaintiffs argued that Sudan could be sued under the terrorist exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The exception waives immunity for foreign states in cases where money damages are sought for personal injury or death caused by the provision of material support or resources to terrorists. Immunity is waived if the provision of material support is engaged in by an official, employee or agent of a foreign state while acting within the scope of his or her office, employment or agency.

The exception only applies if a foreign state is designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism.

U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar held Aug. 26 that the allegations in the complaint were sufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction. He explained that the plaintiffs alleged that al-Qaida could not have committed the bombing without the support of sponsors such as Sudan.

The suit alleges the Sudanese government and Osama bin Laden co-owned a bank and a company. Also, the country allegedly let al-Qaida run a terrorist training camp within its borders and allowed an al-Qaida member to ship crates of explosives from Sudan to Yemen, where the USS Cole bombing occurred, Judge Doumar said.

These allegations, if true, would support an inference that Sudan’s actions were the proximate cause of the USS Cole bombing and the deaths of the plaintiffs’ decedents, he said.

The judge rejected Sudan’s argument that the suit’s allegations did not sufficiently plead that the government provided material support to al-Qaida.

"These facts not only satisfy the [Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s] definition of ’material support or resources,’ but suggest the existence of a joint enterprise or partnership. If these allegations do not suffice to establish ’material support or resources’ for the purpose of jurisdiction, it is difficult to imagine what can," Judge Doumar said.

He also ruled that the complaint’s allegations satisfied the terrorist exception because they claimed that Sudanese officials acted within the scope of their duties when providing material support to al-Qaida.

Judge Doumar concluded his opinion by finding that it was premature at the current stage of the litigation to rule on Sudan’s argument regarding the plaintiffs’ failure to state a claim for wrongful death.

The judge said a decision on the applicable substantive law at this stage would place a burden on the defendant, as he expected an interlocutory appeal.

Sudan has already filed a notice of appeal with the District Court, stating it is pursuing an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.


For more information, please read:
- USS Cole families to pursue lawsuit against Sudan
- Relatives of seven victims of USS Cole bombing sue Sudan

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Salva Kiir’s cunning strategy 2018-05-19 07:40:06 By Duop Chak Wuol Salva Kiir likes to preach democracy to confuse people, looks for ways to legitimize his atrocious regime, uses deception to promote his despotism, and calculatingly waits for (...)

Lessons for South Sudan and IGAD-Led peace forum 2018-05-16 23:28:16 James Okuk, PhD “The polis exists to assure the good life” – Aristotle. “For however strong a ruler may be, he will always have need of the goodwill of the inhabitants if he wishes to remain in (...)

Clarity on Malong’s SSUF status also crucial for peace and accountability 2018-05-14 22:59:18 By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi While declaring the formation of his armed movement in the name of SSUF early last month, the former SPLA chief of general staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan announced the (...)


Latest Press Releases

The Suspension of Hurriyat Online Newspaper 2018-04-29 07:04:37 Sudan Democracy First Group 28 April 2018 The Sudanese civil and political circles and those concerned with Sudan were shocked by the news that the management of Hurriyat online newspaper has (...)

Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan 2018-04-22 10:01:20 UN Secretary-General, New York African Union Commission, Addis Ababa UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan (...)

Abyei celebrates Mine Awareness Day 2018-04-05 08:52:03 4 April 2018 | Abyei - The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) commemorated the International Day for Mine Awareness and (...)


Copyright © 2003-2018 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.